9 votes Philosophy without a philosopher in sight: The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita: ancient Indian texts that challenge Western categories, yet influenced the course of modernity Posted July 9 by NaraVara Tags: philosophy, history, hinduism, india https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/philosophy-without-a-philosopher-in-sight/ Link information This data is scraped automatically and may be incorrect. Title Philosophy without a philosopher in sight - Essay - Footnotes to Plato - TLS 1 comment Collapse replies Expand all Comments sorted by most votes newest first order posted relevance OK NaraVara (OP) July 9 Link Interesting take on some crucial distinctions between Western and Eastern philosophy, specifically the notion of "authorship." In particular is the idea in Hindu philosophy that great works are... Interesting take on some crucial distinctions between Western and Eastern philosophy, specifically the notion of "authorship." In particular is the idea in Hindu philosophy that great works are not the product of any one individual, but a collaborative effort of an entire culture that certain individuals might become a vessel or agent for. By this thinking, "authorship" becomes an act of performance as much as an act of creation, and the lines between categories like writer/reader, choreographer/dancer, or songwriter/singer become blurred. Among the impediments is a logistical one which reveals how, in the West, value and significance are attributed according to certain classificatory norms and not others. I don’t mean the “canon”; I’m referring to a more basic category: authorship. “Footnotes to Plato” (like Western philosophy), is, generally, as much about the philosophers as it is about the philosophy. In fact, the field of knowledge called “the history of Western philosophy” could just as easily be called “the history of Western philosophers”, inasmuch as Western philosophers are the sum total of their lives and works, and we often defer to both biography and thought when we interact with the philosophy. Each body of work has a personality, but so does its author; in almost every case, we can, literally, put a “face” to the work, whether that’s a photograph of Bertrand Russell or a fourth-century BC bust of Plato. What do we do with a philosophy when there’s no philosopher in sight? The absence constitutes a problem in giving, and claiming, value. Meaning and significance in Western culture are not just features of the work, but pertain to, and arise from, the owner of the work – the author is the work’s first owner; the author’s nation or culture (“Greece” or “Germany”, say; or “the West”) its overarching one. The Upanishads and the Gita, on the other hand, come to us as the New Critics said poems should: without the baggage of biography. To read them is to confront language, form and text alone, without the distraction or temptation of dwelling on the author’s milieu and life.